How to put the U.S. back at the helm of AI innovation

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Why is it so important that the U.S. lead in AI? It’s a simple question, with a straightforward answer: AI promises major economic and societal benefits that the U.S. would be foolish to forfeit.

PWC estimates that AI technologies could increase global GDP by $15.7 trillion by 2030, a 20 percent increase overall. The estimated increase for North America alone is an eye-popping $3.7 trillion; a 14.5 percent increase in GDP. Couple these massive economic gains with the potential for major AI-driven advancement in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, national security and education, and AI has the potential to be the proverbial tide lifting all boats – as long as the boats are soundly built.

We are pleased to see bipartisan efforts to ensure the U.S. is a leader in AI. The recent Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence and the establishment of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus both show that policymakers understand the importance of developing and deploying this innovative technology. The U.S. needs to further these efforts by adopting a complete U.S. National AI Strategy that includes specific funding commitments and timelines for implementation.

Industry and government will have to work together to navigate some tricky shoals, including regulatory burdens to AI development, potential workforce displacement, slow AI adoption and concerns over ethical implications of AI use. Having the national strategy address the following four main areas would be a good start.

Foster AI innovation across industry and government

Federal agencies should outline their own AI strategies to spur conversation and further understanding of their role in the AI technology landscape. The federal government should mandate this as a widespread practice, but agencies should start immediately, and not wait for direction to do so.

The implementation of strategies from agencies must be coupled with the development of ethical guidelines and policies for AI’s use in government. Putting guardrails in place to guide AI’s use in academia, civil society and the public and private sectors is necessary to ensure the technology flourishes safely and ethically.

Invest in current and future workforce 

The promise of AI is great, but the U.S. needs a workforce that understands how to utilize the technology to its full potential. Developing and training a strong next-generation workforce is critical to ensuring the U.S. has the capabilities and expertise necessary for successful integration of AI into the U.S. economy.

Also, we must not dismiss concerns over potential job loss and displacement that could come with AI. It is important that federal agencies and local governments have foresight, and research ways to mitigate potential impacts arising from job displacement. Governments might, for example, expand unemployment insurance and benefits, or explore creating a public-private partnership network of National Service opportunities to alleviate job loss.

Sensibly liberate data

Data is the lifeblood of successful AI development. The more data is available to an AI system, the more intelligent it can become. The promotion of open data sources and data sharing will create a fast-track of AI integration into economies and societies. Increased access to government sources of data will promote further machine learning and insight. But data sharing must take place in a sensible and ethical manner. The U.S. must put in place federal privacy legislation and develop policies to ensure accountability for design and implementation.

Create a supportive legal and policy environment

The federal government should use caution before adopting new laws, regulations, taxes or controls that may inadvertently impede the responsible development of AI. Additionally, to ease burdens and protect U.S. innovation, federal agencies should avoid requiring companies to transfer or provide access to technologies, source code, algorithms or encryption keys as conditions of doing business.

It’s time for a U.S. national AI strategy. A shared effort from government and industry stakeholders will put wind in our sails, and help the U.S. reap the benefits of AI for years to come.

David Hoffman is Associate General Counsel and Global Privacy Officer for Intel Inc.

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artificial intelligence (AI), Intel Corp., Op-ed
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